Rockets strike West Bank hours before Obama’s arrival
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- U.S. President Barack Obama is meeting Palestinian officials on the second day of his Mideast tour to emphasize the importance of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, a message underscored Thursday when Palestinian militants in Gaza launched rockets into southern Israel.
After a visit to Israel's national museum - where he inspected the Dead Sea Scrolls, which highlight the Jewish people's ancient connection to the land that is now Israel - Obama headed to the West Bank to tell the Palestinians that the creation of a Palestinian state remains a priority for his administration.
He is not bringing a new plan to relaunch peace talks, but in meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a speech to Israeli students later in the day, he will appeal to both sides to halt unilateral actions that make negotiations more difficult.
Those troublesome actions include continued construction of Jewish housing settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and repeated Palestinian efforts to achieve recognition at the United Nations in the absence of a peace agreement.